This weekend in New South Wales, fans in all their finery will be gathering for The Steampunk Party. It’s not just any con, though; this event centers on the
regional qualifiers for the Australian Tea Duelling Championship. The regional winners will progress to the national competition held at Ironfest in Lithgow, NSW.Tea duelling is a one-on-one competition, in which the contestants dunk biscuits (cookies) into a cup of hot tea for a count of five, then attempt to achieve a clean “nom,” by successfully getting the sodden biscuit into his or her mouth without it breaking apart and falling into the teacup (a “splash”), onto the floor or table (a “splatter”), or onto his/her own person (a “splodge”). Committing a splash, splatter, or splodge results in loss of the challenge. There’s a good deal of ceremony surrounding all this, and a set of very specific rules to govern everything from teacup sizes and type of biscuits used to technique and fouls. Use of coffee or cocoa is strictly forbidden. If both contestants achieve a clean “nom,” the rules state that, “the dunker who last mouthed their bisquit [sic] is considered to be the victor with their opponent defeated.”
Tea duelling isn’t unique to Australia. In fact, there is a “world-governing body” called The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists. Tea Duels can take one of two forms: the Matter of Honour, or competitive tea duelling. Competitive tea dueling was introduced at Anachro*Con 2012 in Atlanta. According to The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists, “Tea Duelling is a concept created and developed by Geof Banyard (aka Doctor Geof) and John Naylor (aka Tinker). The creators exert all rights to the concept, titles, imagery and rules.” I’m told for U.S. tea duels, Pepperidge Farm Chessmen are the cookies of choice.
The American Tea Duelling Society, an affiliate of The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists, will also be holding a tea duelling event this Saturday, February 15, 2014, at Anachro*Con in Atlanta. For more information on running a tea duelling competition at your event, check out this page on The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists’ website.